Let's have an 80's revival and close down every pit. No sorry, they've done that. So what's left to privatise or shut? The health service, education, the welfare state?
Let's have an 80's revival and Labour can pose as left-wingers: champions of the working-class they abandoned. Everyone can protest because that party will be on the marches with their decent speeches, forgetting to mention that they created this society ruled over by unregulated banks and with a property ethos which sees housing as investment not places to live.
But there are subtle differences. In the 80's there were a number of groups around in popular music who really did represent an alternative.One of the finest was Carter USM,hailed by DJ John Peel and a significant force in their time. They made the most unique sound ; a weird hybrid of punk and Phil Spector layers, their songs were always witty and often surreal and cutting. Another band who were dismissed by Peel were my favourites of that time, Runrig from Scotland. I even felt strongly enough to write to Peel putting their case. They were often full of nationalist fervour (two went on to represent the SNP, while singer Donnie Munro was a Labour politician), but had a number of songs steeped in working-class protest, such as 'Ravenscraig', about the closure of that steel-works. Like the Super Furry Animals and Glasvegas today, they sang in their own distinctive accents. At their gigs they always flew the red flag, blowing in a wind-machine.
Today, it's much harder to find voices of dissent and rebellion amongst the bands. Where are the new Pogues or , indeed, Christy Moore's singular and highly political folk-jazz combo Moving Hearts?
It is primarily from singer-songwriters that we find stirring and vital responses to our times. The two best examples are Richard Thompson's 'The Money Shuffle' and Thea Gilmore's 'We Built A Monster', two distinctive perspectives, though both rail against the capitalist system which is destroying us.
'The Money Shuffle' is from Thompson's latest cd 'Dream Attic' and interestingly takes the viewpoint of the banker in a Randy Newman manner. The banker begins the song by announcing his kindness and normality, but by the first chorus he can't disguise his overriding meglomania - 'I've got you right where I want you'. The exhortation to do the 'money shuffle' makes the listener think 'Yes, we've been had!'
Gilmore's song is very different but shares theb idea that 'we' have created this culture of greed and wheeler-dealing. It's all the more remarkable because it's from her album 'Harpo's Ghost' released in 2006, before the present recession took hold. Like Thompson's , it is uptempo yet scathing. While Thompson's is satirical, Gilmore creates an image which holds the whole song together, of a frightening monster, an all-consuming beast which 'can raise up armies it can blow 'em full of holes'. Certainly the war in Iraq must have been an inspiration, but the song focusses on the City itself -'hissing like a wildcat just about to fight'.
It's important there are voices out there, however rare they may be. I do believe that out of the drains and ditches,out of walk-outs and marches, out of our desperation for an alternative world, there will emerge a music 'never-been-done-before-yet-sounding-so-familiar'. Come the times, come the music.
In 'scissor,paper,stone' it's rock cannot be cut!
LAND OF THE SUPER FURRIES
I don't believe in Prince's Days,
in marching for a Christian Saint,
in eating leeks like Shakey's Fluellen
(he didn't even bother with the spelling!).
I don't believe in daffodils,
the wild poppy is Cymru's flower;
in pointless ancient Welsh kings
who wielded too much power.
I don't believe in celebrities,
rich exiles like Dame Shirley or Sir Tom,
in lickspittle doff-your-cap bowing
we're supposed to show to royalty.
I believe in the land of the Super Furries,
where the spirit of Gwyn Alf strides,
where the words of Gwenallt and Idris Davies
raise their fists side by side.